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Elles Bailey + Ian Siegal + Toby Lee

Thursday 29th February 2024

Dingwalls,London

A chilly, wet night in Camden, came loaded with promise with both the "new" generation and the "older" generation of Blues being well represented.

Starting off with one of the "newer" stars on the circuit: The 19 year-old Toby Lee. Actually, to say "newer" stars, is really a misnomer, as Toby seems to have been around for ages, but he has earned his "stars" and is now starting to win over his ever-growing fan base. I have seen him more than a few times and he is well deserving of the praise being heaped upon him.

Kicking off with 'Just Hold On', Toby showed what he is all about, with a blistering solo to round the song out and show off his prowess. 'Into The Light' followed, with the Thursday night crowd heaving already, despite the miserable weather outside! They weren't going to be easily put off. 'House On Fire' was quickly followed by 'No Need to Lie' with some more tasteful guitar work up and down the fretboard, all courtesy of Toby's youthful dexterity. His accolades are well deserved.

'Saviour' and 'Fever' brought things to a roaring close, with everyone baying for more and the one thing being for sure: Toby is here to stay!

On to one of our more seasoned Bluesmen: Ian Siegal. In honesty, it's been a little while since I last saw Ian and this is definitely the first time that I've seen him as a solo act. He didn't disappoint, despite a few tuning problems and a broken string mid-set, requiring him to negotiate a replacement string from the main act. Ian is these days, a seasoned professional, negotiating his way through these minor hinderances with aplomb, barely missing a beat.

Sadly, I found myself annoyed at my lack of familiarity with Ian's take on the deep Mississippi Blues, but that didn't diminish my appreciation of this ancient art. Excellent stuff, and now on to the main reason we were all there: Elles Bailey!

Elles is definitely one of the fastest rising stars around and fully deserves to get even larger than she already is. With a new 'Live' album just about to be released, followed by a new 'studio album', just being mixed, she undoubtedly will! I last saw her at her previous album launch at London Bridge's Omera, which was my introduction to this excellent vocalist. All signs point in the right direction, and that is purely upwards!

Kicking off with 'The Game', she had the crowd just where she wanted them: eating out of her hand! Quickly followed by the equally powerful 'Stones', also from the last album, 'Shining In The Half Light', before she chose to quieten things, but just a bit. 'Perfect Storm' rounded off the opening three songs, bringing it right down before building things up again, giving Bailey a chance to shine and remind everyone of just how good both Elles and those early albums are!

'If This Is Love', from what I understood to be off the upcoming album, plus 'The Devil Claims His Prize' ramped things up again with Elles, climbing the barriers, encouraging everyone to sing along! It definitely seemed to work. 'Long Road Ahead' was swiftly followed by 'Help Somebody', before 'What's The Matter With You?' and 'Medicine Man' started to bring the house down. 'Over The Hill', a John Martyn cover, was warmly received before her collaboration with Redtenbacher Funkestra, and 'Jordan', a Rival Sons cover, that was embraced with open arms by everyone present, followed by one of the gig highlights, 'Riding Out The Storm'.

With only an encore to perform, the night can only be described as: a resounding success! A lot of that is down to Elles warm personality! It's a big warm hug! Indeed, the band brought Elles back for a well deserved finale of Creedence Clearwater Revival's 'Long As I Can See The Light' plus 'Sunshine City', featuring a returning Toby Lee on guitar, sending everyone home happy, despite London's weather!

An excellent evening with a star in the ascendency and definitely one to watch! And just make a note of bigger things for this smoky voiced dynamo on Saturday 2nd November ... you heard it here first!

Tim Russell

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